Southwest Key Casa Kokopelli Youth Care Worker Levian D. Pacheco Accused of Sexual Abusing Children at Immigrant Shelter

A tent encampment holding children of immigrants is seen recently built near the Tornillo Port of Entry on June 19, 2018 in Tornillo, Texas.
Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

A Southwest Key youth-care worker is facing multiple sex offense charges after being accused of molesting at least eight unaccompanied boys over the time span of a year at one of the government youth shelters in Mesa, Ariz.

Levian D. Pacheco, who is HIV-positive, is accused of performing oral sex on two of the teens and tried to force one of them to penetrate him anally. The other six teens were allegedly groped through their clothing. The boys range in age from 15 to 17, with all the incidents taking place between August 2016 and July 2017, according to Pro Publica.

To make matters worse, the facility in which Pacheco worked was cited in 2017 for failing to complete background checks for its employees to ensure that no one had previously committed sex offenses and other crimes. Pacheco had been working at Southwest Key’s Casa Kokopelli shelter for almost four months without a complete background check, though those documents did not show any previous arrests or convictions for sex offenses, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services officials, Pro Publica reports.

Pacheco was indicted back in August 2017 after a joint investigation by local law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services inspector general’s office, Pro Publica notes. He is facing eight counts of abusive sexual contact with a ward and three counts of sexual acts with a ward. The 25-year-old is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals and has denied all allegations.

Unfortunately, these children are not the first nor close to the only children being subject to alleged abuse at these government-subsidized shelters that the Trump administration has claimed are safe and even “fun.”

Last month a report from Reveal exposed horrific accusations of mistreatment of the youth in the care of the government including negligence, physical and sexual abuse, and even forcible injections of drugs.

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This speaks nothing to the psychological trauma that is also dealt to these children, first from being forcibly separated from their parents, only to be subject to further harm.

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A former staffer at another Arizona shelter, this time in Tuscon, claimed that workers only received “a week’s worth of training, which included CPR” before they were put to care for the traumatized children. Many of them also had no professional experience caring for children.

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